25 years ago, the world got its first and arguably most successful movie adaptation of a popular gaming franchise, in the form of the Paul W.S. Anderson directed Mortal Kombat. The action-adventure film stayed surprisingly faithful to the game's one-on-one fighting format while also managing to tell a coherent story with charismatic leads, a kickass soundtrack, and exactly the right number of crotch-punching jokes.
Fans of Mortal Kombat took to social media to fondly dwell on their favorite parts of the film. Although a box-office success, the movie was savaged by critics for its corny dialogues and less-than-stellar special effects. But for fans and general audiences, it was clear that Paul W.S. Anderson had managed to tell a story that captured the spirit of the games that made them so popular. During an interview celebrating Mortal Kombat's anniversary, the filmmaker explained that, during a time when video game adaptations were looked down upon, he knew as a gaming enthusiast that a Mortal Kombat movie had lots of potential.
"I was a big fan and knew intimately. This was a really intriguing intellectual property to adapt. If you played the game enough, there was good mythology behind it, which reminded me of classic movies like Jason and the Argonauts and Enter the Dragon."
While the plot and dialogues of the movie can sometimes be found wanting, the fight scenes in Mortal Kombat have stood the test of time as some of the most entertaining the action genre has ever since, which Anderson credits the actors for, many of whom were highly-trained martial artists.
"We delivered something fresh and exciting that hadn't been seen before in American cinema, and I think that stuff still holds up. Two actors who really know how to fight going at it, that's a thing of beauty that holds up whether it was done 30 years ago or three weeks ago. That's something Mortal Kombat has in spades, which is why I think it's cool."
In many ways, the first Mortal Kombat movie was the last time a video-game adaptation became something more than a middling box-office success with little cultural impact. The follow-up sequels to Mortal Kombat with a different creative team were not nearly as successful.
Once again, it fell to Anderson to present the world with a new successful movie series based on a video game, which he did with the Resident Evil franchise and hopes to do again with the upcoming Monster Hunter. The filmmaker states that the reason his forays in the genre are so successful is that he believes in staying true to the spirit of the games, instead of cherry-picking the parts of the narrative that best fit a movie script and discarding the rest.
"I didn't see it as an opportunity to make a successful movie; I saw it as a chance to bring something I truly loved to the screen, and I think you have if you want to adapt it successfully,"
Mortal Kombat quotes originated over at Entertainment Weekly.